The Magic of Interactive Storytelling
HOW I BUILD BRANCHING SIMULATIONS
The Many Sides of Beth Forester: A Case Study on Differential Diagnosis is a POV (point-of-view) immersive simulation designed using H5P for the Moodle learning management system (LMS) and developed in partnership with Department of Psychiatric Nursing at Brandon University. Our goal was to provide students with and adaptive learning experience to practice the advanced clinical intake process of psychiatric nursing via a simulated storyline. Interactive video was decided as the method of delivery, and an animated test pilot was created from the first few pages of the peer-reviewed script.
When Things Don’t Go as Planned
After storyboarding, creating, and reviewing a test of an animated pilot for the project, I choose to recommend a live-action adaptation for the simulation. While the animation was fun and appealing, I felt that filming with live performers would better support both the desired learning outcomes and emotional impact of the script, and truly bring the characters to life. I personally spearheaded the change, which required careful planning, including location scouting, creating and distributing a filming schedule, booking parking and catering, hiring local talent for the roles of nurses and patients, and directing the production days.
This decision highlighted my adaptability and willingness to think outside of the box to achieve the best possible outcome for the project.
ABOVE: Here are some key frames from the second iteration of the storyboard showing the exciting new live-action and first-person perspective direction.
A New Perspective
The original animated pilot had learners passively observing a patient-nurse interaction, so to create a more engaging and immersive experience we made the critical decision to switch to a first-person point-of-view. This put the learner in an active role as the nurse, allowing them to make decisions and interact with the patient in a more meaningful way.
By doing so, we transformed the learning experience into a dynamic and memorable one, while also highlighting the power of point-of-view as a storytelling tool. This decision proved to be a pivotal moment in the project, as it ultimately brought the characters and their experiences to life for the learner.
Bringing the Simulation to Life
After receiving the final script from the content author, I crafted a storyboard and design package, which were reviewed by the instructional designer and content author prior to beginning production on the animated pilot.
For our transition to film, I created a new storyboard using a first-person perspective to bring viewers closer to the action and intensify the immersion of the learning experience. This storyboard was then approved and used as a reference by the film crew during the three-day shoot, which I directed.
To further elevate filming of the project, I scouted locations, scheduled and booked talent, and arranged for all production logistics, including catering.
During post-production, I meticulously curated and edited over 108 individual video clips to achieve a seamless and impactful branching simulation for the learner.
ABOVE: Some frames from the final cut of the live-action simulation, featuring Kaitlyn Kriss as ‘Beth’.
The H5P Differential Diagnosis simulation offers an engaging and dynamic platform for healthcare students to develop essential skills in crisis response, therapeutic communication, and mental health assessment. Through immersive and interactive learning paths, students can gain valuable experience in working with patients living with mental illness, PTSD, and trauma, while honing their abilities to navigate complex scenarios and make informed decisions.
This simulation represents a powerful tool for educators and professionals alike, offering a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice in a safe and supportive environment.
Director, Coordinator, Pre- and Post-Production, and QA
CANDICE WADDELL RPN/Ph.D. (c)
Software used includes Adobe After Effects, Audition, Character Animator, Premiere Pro, and H5P.
These materials were licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Shot on location at the Helen Glass Centre for Nursing at the University of Manitoba.
Catering was provided by Aramark Food Services.